I’m assuming the title grabbed your attention. Goal Accomplished. Now if you want to find the meaning and purpose behind that quote… read on.
I try not to sensationalize myself or my “comeback,” in terms of my running. But, if you’re one of those people that have had a legitimate injury and have lost touch with your running because of frustration and agony in dealing with it, keep reading… this applies to you.
After the past two years, I have found myself chuckling over insignificant things. Seeing runners saying, “Woe is me, my life is over, and my career is gone, “ in relation to having a simple stress fracture and being out for a MEASLY 6-8 weeks. Then, we’ve all seen and heard their “comeback story,” at least 17 times, to which, would entail the hardships, the deep dark depression, their binge eating, and the occasional, “I would have fought anyone I was so mad, including my very own grandmother.”
The nosey person I am, I felt obliged to ask, “Wow, how many years were you out?”
Their response, “A whole 4 ½ weeks… and 3 hours.”
To some, that sounds like a lot. But to the person who has been a runner for years on end, 6-8 weeks isn’t much. Heck, if one were able to cross train, it’s just a matter of time before one is rolling again.
Let me revert back to my story (and I apologize for the possibility of coming off hypocritical in any way). Again, nor do I want to” sensationalize” my tale. I would, however, like others to recognize a few points I’m trying to get across before discussing my own past.
1.) “It could be worse.”
2.) “It sucks,” but you have plenty of time. Worst case, you don’t have patience… “GREAT!!!” God has now specifically chosen to teach you patience, this is non-negotiable… trust me!
3.) “Thinking too far ahead,” leads to the devil of almost all problems, “over thinking.” We have heard these
sentiments before, but have you really stepped back and realized you’re most likely blowing things out of proportion? Most problems in life are over thought. Calm down, Bro.
Yes, some things are serious, but in hindsight, you can regroup and move forward in due time. Take one workout by one workout, and nothing more — till it is properly completed. Thinking months ahead in time will lead to frustration, and take away from the importance of executing today’s rehab or training.
January 3rd, 2013: I took an MRI of my greatly atrophied left leg. It had been 8 months since surgery, in which, dealt with removing a bone spur from my heel. Being the oddity I am, my body overcompensated. And while I sported a cast recovering from surgery, scar tissue grew. A chunk of collagen, toxins and evil toxicity all formed up into my calf, causing the muscle to shrink (impressively) rapidly. It formed in large clusters and my leg had a rock-like feel to it. That”s a brief background on my ability to recover “quickly.”
When I was competitive, I went upwards to 140 miles a week on average in training, and experimented at 165 miles per week previously. I was by no means the most talented runner out there. I’ve clawed my way to the times I ran, but if there was two things I could do: Run hard, and recover quickly.
Second problem, scar tissue takes not days, weeks, or months to go away. For me, it’s been 1 year and 8 months of constant rehab. And it will be a little while longer of light therapy, graston, heating, strengthening, needling from doc to fully remove all scar tissue. At times, my life feels like it revolves around rehabbing the leg. I feel consumed, because it’s a daily thing. If I skip a day, it shows. The more scar tissue one has, the less amount of blood flow one has in the area. The lesser amount of blood flow in an area one has, the lesser nutrients are delivered to the area. The lesser amount of nutrients delivered to the area, the lesser amount of muscle can be built in the area. If no work is done to rid scar tissue and deliver nutrients, then one can expect no results.
January 10th, 2013: The doctor I met with is ranked high, and has fantastic reviews. She was/is also famous for being in contests dealing with “strength.” She looked not so much sympathetic before telling me the results, but more along the lines of, “you’re screwed, pal.” Now, I’ve been a Debbie Downer my fair share of the time, but there comes a point of professionalism, optimism, and simply being sympathetic does come into play for being a doctor that is highly respected amongst the community.
Perhaps, it was the dreary drizzle outside adding to the aurora of the mood, but I recall being told, in relation to my MRI results and amongst the medical jargon, “This is really really bad, this is really really bad.”
** Long awkward stare down **
“This is not fixable. You’d be lucky if you can walk normal once again. Typically, what they do in your case is replace the Achilles as a whole, and just give you a dead person’s Achilles. It doesn’t do much good, it’s basically a leather strap to sparsely hold together the rest of the leg.”
When I looked for anything positive or offered words of optimism, I was quickly “humbled”. Long story short, the MRI report showed long tears up and down the Achilles, muscles and other tendons.
After three days of feeling sorry for myself, I went to the gym. I was by no means in pain, just had a leg that felt near worthless. I figured I would at least do some cardio, I had two arms, and I could still do arm bike. Upon arriving, I noticed the same doctor was there. If this were a movie, she would dig deep within herself, and there would be a touching Kodak moment were she would approach me and tell me not to give up. That was not so.
Life is not a movie.
Now, I’m not a disbeliever in miracles, but I do believe in trying to make the supernatural as natural as possible. That being said — work hard, do everything right, and as a baseline, hope and pray for the best. I don’t know many ‘greats’ that have sat at home just waiting for their miracle to happen. We have two legs, and the ability to strive for what we seek in life. Do it.
I do find people who focus solely on proving one person wrong. In my case, that would be the doctor who saw my MRI report and nonchalantly issued my sentence. Let me tell you, let go of it. As the saying goes, “75% of people don’t care about your problems; 20% are glad you have those problems.”
Choose the 5% that’s leftover wisely.
Truth be told, call it a form of “specialness,” for being neglectful of my predisposed fate. I started doing calf raises in the pool. I started jogging 10 minutes a day last February (2013). I regrouped, and started doing therapy on my leg once again with Dr. Chris Barnes (talk about being positive, definitely the good contrast in comparison to the MRI Doctor). Heck, if my leg is as good as dead, “What do I have to lose?” As scar tissue began to dissipate more and more over time (albeit a slower rate than molasses), muscle began to form. My runs became longer, and my soul became happier.
Above: Clay Mayes III eyes the finish line of the March 9, 2014 Trail Madness 8K, where he took first place in a time of 32:18. Two weeks prior, Mayes claimed the top spot at the POSTOAK Challenge 10K, posting a course record 44:46 time. (photo by Lori Dreiling, Fleet Feet Sports Tulsa)
Flash Forward Almost One Year Later: As of recently, I have completed two trail races in the past 3 weekends, Post Oak 10K and Trail Madness 8K. I can say it felt “invigorating” to finally be back racing. I’m not quite ready for the road race scene just yet, but I can say it’s a process that I’m willing to continue working towards.
Spark notes: It turns out, I had so much scar tissue that it showed up as tears in my muscles and ligaments. In reality, there are no tears.
Conclusion: I now use the papers of my MRI report as a makeshift funnel for putting the protein powder in my workout bottle. Okay, I sentionalized my story a little bit there. But in a geeky/joking tone, “Haters are my Motivators.”
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